The University of Florida Athletic Association unveiled its $100 million facility master plan Friday, highlighted the creation of a standalone football complex as well as upgrades to both the baseball and softball complexes.
As of right now, the renovations are just in the concept phase. No funding has been identified to this point, although athletics director Jeremy Foley said it will likely come from a combination of borrowing money and fund-raising.
“These things are not getting built tomorrow, all right,” said Foley, who is stepping down from his A.D. position on Oct. 1 and added that the plans have been in the works for about 12 months, “but to get these things moving, tomorrow has to happen.”
The football complex will be located on north end of James G. Pressly Stadium — home to Florida’s soccer and track and field programs — and directly west of the Sanders Practice Fields. A new dining hall, open to all varsity student-athletes, will be adjacent to it on the west.
Chip Howard, executive associate athletics director for internal affairs, said the 100,000-square-foot complex will include a team locker room, weight room, training room, team meeting rooms, offices, recruiting lounge, open foyer area for display of trophies. With that, the current football offices will be converted into administrative offices and weight room and the South End Zone weight room and training room in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will be renovated for use by all student-athletes.
“Seeing the stuff that we're doing and the way we're heading forward is really exciting for us and the new things that I think are on the horizon here, I'm pretty fired up over it," UF coach Jim McElwain said on Wednesday.
For the Florida softball team, which plays at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on the southwest side of campus and won back-to-back national titles in 2014 and 2015, about 800 seats will be added along the first- and third-base lines to bring capacity up to about 2,500. Additional restrooms and concession stands have to be added as well because of the increase in seating, Howard said. The stadium will also have refurbished locker rooms for home and away teams, a revamped press box and a meeting room that will double as an area for interviews during the NCAA Tournament.
Over at McKethan Stadium, home of the Florida baseball team that has reached the College World Series five times in the past nine seasons under coach Kevin O’Sullivan, a central canopy will cover about two-thirds of the stadium’s seats, according to renderings provided by the UAA that were designed by HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm.
An extra four rows of seats will be added behind home plate, and about 400 club-level seats and the stands in left field will be elevated to be at the same height as the Dizney Plaza next to it.
Friday’s announcement comes after a string of athletic facility projects over the past two years that have recently completed or are nearing completion.
The $64.5 million renovation to the O’Connell Center, which began in April, is still on schedule to be completed by Dec. 15, Howard said. In addition, Florida opened the renovated Otis Hawkins Center for Academic and Personal Excellence in June, a nearly two-year project that held a $25 million price tag.
And in August 2015, Florida’s $17 million indoor football practice facility was completed.
“Facilities are just part of the conversation,” Foley said. “You go back to critics say you're five years too late: Our facilities have not kept us from being successful. … If you have good coaches, you're going to get good athletes, and we've shown that time and time again around here."